CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - This airport was built nearly 25 years ago, and at the time, it was a relief airport for Charlotte-Douglas, but since then it has come into its own. Dirk Vandersleet has been the Aviation Director for the last year and a half.
“We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen, and we continue to grow the business, we think there’s a great opportunity to see that grow even more," Vandersleet said.
In a report released this week, Concord-Padgett Regional Airport (JQF/USA) is listed as one of ten commercial service airports in North Carolina, and airline partner Allegiant Air served nearly a quarter-million passengers in Concord going to six destinations.
According to the report (North Carolina: The State of Aviation), “the N.C. Department of Transportation’s network of 72 publicly owned airports, and the aviation and aerospace assets that rely on them, help move North Carolina’s economy forward by creating jobs, supporting business growth and connecting people and companies to markets around the globe.
North Carolina’s public airports annually contribute $52 billion to the state’s economy, supporting 307,000 jobs that generate $12.6 billion in personal income and $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenues.”
“You have your pilots for the aircraft, you have your maintenance, okay, support on that," Vandersleet added.
Of those 4500 jobs, a large part of those have to do with public safety. Concord has a fire department right on site. In October emergency personnel from several agencies took part in a large disaster training exercise.
In 2013 the airport marked a major turning point when low cost carrier Allegiant Air began commercial passenger service. Then Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, for whom the airport is now named, greeted the first passengers.
The proximity to Charlotte Motor Speedway and dozens of local NASCAR teams have contributed greatly to the success of the airport. Several team owners, like Joe Gibbs, have planes based here.
And more growth is on the way. Vandersleet says there are talks about Allegiant adding flights to the northeast from Concord.
“We think there’s great opportunity for us in 2020 to look at the northeast, we’ve been having some conversations with them about that," Vandersleet said.
With a runway expansion from 5,500 feet to 7,400, in just 25 years, Concord-Padgett has become one of the busiest airports in North Carolina.
The airport is operated by over 40 City of Concord Aviation Department coworkers who provide aircraft fueling, hangaring, tie-down, parking, and customer services. Other aeronautical services such as aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, and flight instruction are offered through private operators leasing space on-site.
CRA also has an on-site, staffed fire station operated by the Concord Fire Department and a control tower operated by contracted staff. The annual budget for the airport currently exceeds $10.8 million.